Italian sodas, parmesan-pepper popcorn, crostini with ricotta, honey, & chili oil: certainly a cut above Junior Mints and Whoppers. At the newly re-opened Theaters at Canal Place, traditional movie snacks share space with Mediterranean food from the kitchen of Adolfo Garcia’s in-house cafe, Gusto. A sleek dining space and small bar occupy one corner of the theater lobby, and service staff provide in-seat food and drinks.
I was prepared to love the concept–real food and cocktails at a movie is something I’ve missed since the old Movie Pitchers in Mid-City closed down (even though the food was never much better than ordinary–remember the odd french bread pizzas topped with avocado?)
But Gusto (see menu here) first slapped me with sticker shock: after paying $8 for a matinee ticket, I paid $5 for an italian soda, $4.5 for a fountain drink….$6 for a small bag of the aforementioned popcorn (tasty, but cold and mostly small, broken kernels), plus $9 for 4 ricotta crostini with honey, chili oil, and a handful of baby greens. In truth, I struggled to find something I wanted to order, as none of the menu items (hummus? marinated artichokes?) seemed especially appealing. On the other hand, the servers were helpful, prompt, and efficient.
A tiny amount of food for $24….hmmm, those Junior Mints are looking better and better. Verdict: food is always about the execution, isn’t it? I would have been happy with my $6 parmesan-pepper popcorn if it was freshly popped (or at least warmish), but when it’s been tossed roughly, shoveled into a paperbag, and reduced to a sack of corn scraps, I’m unable to appreciate its zippy flavor. The crostini were perfectly adequate, but underwhelming for $9.
I was still hungry when we left the theater, so we made a beeline for Domenica’s mid-afternoon pizza happy hour (3-6, 7 days a week). Two handcrafted pizzas, two specialty cocktails: $28, including tip. Now if Domenica would just show movies…